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Thursday, 8 July 2021

Australian travellers slam industry rip offs


Consumer group CHOICE has asked Australian governments to fix Australia’s travel “cancellation chaos” with seven urgent reforms, starting by making it easier for travellers to obtain refunds when plans are cancelled.

 

CHOICE surveyed over 4,400 Australians who had travel plans disrupted by Covid-19 and is sharing their experiences in the report Consumer protection for Australian travellers: a plan for clarity, consistency and fairness. 

 

“Many Australians who had booked travel have faced inconsistent and unfair treatment since CovidD-19 emerged in early 2020,” says CHOICE Consumer Rights Expert and report author Alison Elliott.

 

“While some people reported receiving incredible help and assistance from travel businesses, others waited more than six months for a refund or encountered appalling customer service. Australians were forced to navigate cancellation chaos rather than receiving clear and practical advice on their rights. 

 

“Many people are now grappling with impractical limitations on travel vouchers and unfair solutions to a problem they didn’t cause. Just like the EU and UK, we should have clear rights to refunds when travel plans are cancelled.”  

 

The CHOICE travel cancellations survey found 53% of respondents waited over three months for a resolution, with nearly a quarter waiting over six months. 

 

“Waiting over 6 months to get a refund is far too long, even in pandemic conditions," says Elliott. "Looking at the experiences of over 4,400 Australians, we saw major problems that governments have the ability to fix. We need stronger and clearer consumer protections to help Australians have the confidence to book travel in the future.”

 

Australians also shared their stories of major travel brands hiding behind complicated terms and conditions, passing the buck and befuddling customers out of asserting their rights. Flight Centre, AirBnB and Qantas featured heavily in the survey feedback.

 

“It is not OK that the big players in this industry don’t have better systems and higher standards of service," says Elliott. "The recent lockdowns in a number of states are a reminder that this problem is not going away.”


CHOICE is calling for the Federal and state governments to implement easier travel refunds; minimum voucher/credit rights; a mandatory industry code for all airlines and large travel providers; a travel and tourism industry ombudsman; a mandatory information standard at time of booking; an ACCC market study into the travel and tourism sector and a national travel restrictions website.

 

More detail available in the full report available here: https://sites.google.com/choice.com.au/travelreport2021 


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